I’m exited to share this interview with Anjan Sarkar, illustrator of Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas. Anjan was kind enough to take time to answer a few questions about himself and his new picture book. My questions are in bold and Anjan’s answers follow.
What were you like as a kid?
I was energetic, but I was quite quiet and shy, especially outside the home. I think I made friends easily, but it was through doing things together rather than being outgoing. I liked drawing from an early age.
What was one of your favorite picture books?
It’s probably the one that almost everyone mentions, Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. There’s something about that book and In The Night Kitchen (also by Maurice Sendak) that was very affecting for me as a child. I think those stories and their imagery got into my dreams and really captured my imagination in a visceral way.
I also loved The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont and illustrated by Raymond Briggs, Meal One by Ivor Cutler and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, and Not Now, Bernard by David McKee. I could give you a huge list! But the Maurice Sendak books stand out as the ones that really got into my head as a child.
How did you become an illustrator?
I always enjoyed drawing as a kid and my parents gave me encouragement (and pencils and paper!). Being fairly shy, I probably fed off the compliments and attention I received for my drawings and kept at it. As I got older it seemed natural to follow a creative path when it came to secondary education and higher education choices. So, I ended up studying BA Hons Illustration and Animation at Manchester Metropolitan University. After that I did various creative and uncreative jobs, which all made me more determined to illustrate full-time. I finally achieved that about 8 years ago.
What was your process for making the illustrations for Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas?
I created a sample image for Joy Peskin, the editorial director at FSG Macmillan. We worked together to find a style for the story. She was quite specific about the feel that the illustrations should have, so I worked on a single image to get that ironed out and to develop the look of the characters. The images in the book were all drawn using pencil crayon on paper, then scanned and coloured digitally in Photoshop.
What do you like most about how Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas turned out?
I like the mixture of cultures in the book and that the story shows the importance that food can have at family gatherings. Food was a big deal while I was growing up. My dad always cooked Indian food for us, and all big family occasions still consist of my dad’s tandoori chicken and Indian salad, plus a spread of western food. My wife is Japanese, so now I have discovered masses of delicious Japanese food too. My kids also love trying different food.
Creatively, I love what Roberta Pressel, the designer at FSG, did with the cover and the book in general. I think the text she used for the title is really striking and complementary to the artwork. It was great to see that for the first time. It’s lovely to collaborate with talented designers.
To see more of Anjan’s work, visit his website www.lovelyjam.co.uk
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